US Open 2023: The ecstasy of Sabalenka, the new number one | Tennis | Sports

Tennis applauds the coronation of Aryna Sabalenka, the highest incarnation of vertigo in current tennis. The 25-year-old Belarusian fulfills the dream that she pursued with so much faith, because no one beats that, matters of faith. She wanted and she deserved it. None did so much to unseat Iga Swiatek and close the long reign of the Polish, dominator of the circuit since April 2022, and she finally finds the prize. The relay takes place in New York, witness to the founding of the Warsaw tennis player. She said before starting the march in the tournament that she is mentally saturated and the decline was confirmed before Jelena Ostapenko, who reduced her (3-6, 6-3 and 6-1, in 1h 48m) and reaffirmed the punishment: four games , four attacks.

“I don’t know what happened to me, I’ve lost control. I am surprised that the level has dropped so drastically,” said Swiatek, 22. An iron governor who at the time picked up the baton from the Australian Ashleigh Barty and who in the end has succumbed to the erosion that Sabalenka has been exerting throughout this entire season. From the outset, the Belarusian triumphed in Australia and then performed regularly, present in the final seasons of the tournaments -semifinalist at Roland Garros and Wimbledon- and always threatening. There are Gauff, Pegula, Jabeur or Rybakina, but none has applied more forcefully than her, all power. There is something else: a higher desire.

“Reaching number one is something I dreamed of since I was a child. It’s been an incredible year and this is the perfect reward for all the hard work. It is a great honor to be on the list and to be able to say that I have come this far”, says the one from Minsk, the most non-conformist. She fought not long ago with the double faults, she entrusted herself to a biomechanic to correct the flaw with the second serves; she has also corrected her footwork; physically she has taken a more than considerable leap; And behind her is her unique record, predictable tennis. “To be the best, I must master all surfaces,” she says with satisfaction, already becoming the 29th player she has governed since the WTA list was officially created in 1975.

Consolidated as a total competitor, she picks up the baton from her compatriot Victoria Azarenka –number one between 2012 and 2013– and progresses steadily in New York, where until this Monday’s meeting with Daria Kasatkina –without starting at press time– he has only given up 12 games in duels with Burrage, Zanevska and Burel. Her fiery tennis and her expressiveness contrast with Swiatek’s stony performance, more contained and linear. The polish is pure control, all scientific order; she continues to gain ground and maintains the most devastating blow, even more powerful than that of the men. At Wimbledon, her average (119 km/h) surpassed the men’s (114).

A tiger as a reminder

“I suppose I have good genetics”, reasons the new reference, a charismatic tennis player who rises one meter and 82 centimeters above the ground, and whose best emblem is the tiger that she wears on her left forearm. “I did it at the age of 18, my mother did not speak to me for a week,” she has once recounted. “She helps me when I’m on the court, she reminds me to fight until the end,” she adds. In the line of the media players – she is close to a million followers on Instagram – she has 13 titles and now she is exposed to the demanding examination of the heights, which after 75 weeks she has ended up accusing the worn-out Swiatek.

Swiatek, during the match against Ostapenko.
Swiatek, during the match against Ostapenko.BRIAN HIRSCHFELD (EFE)

“I think I’ve done a good job this year, but I need to go home and reset. It has been a fantastic stage, but also exhausting. Tennis is stressful. I need to do what Rafa, Novak and Roger did in their day, concentrate on the tournaments and not on the ranking. I know that I have to do some things differently; maybe I’m not mature enough, but this could be positive and next time I’ll change some things”, points out the one from Warsaw, already dismounted from a painting in which Madison Keys and Marketa Vondrousova are still present.

The local beat her compatriot Jessica Pegula (6-1 and 6-3) on Monday and the Czech, champion this season at Wimbledon, got rid of Payton Stearns (6-7(3), 6-3 and 6-2) . Both agreed to the rooms, like Coco Gauff, Sorana Cirstea, Karolina Muchova and Qinwen Zheng.

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